La Jolla dining: Chef Bernard Guillas works magic at The Marine Room

When you meet Chef Bernard Guillas it is immediately apparent he is passionate about food. The French native loves to explore new foods from all over the world and prepare them with his unique touch. He has been the Executive Chef at the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club in tony La Jolla Shores, CA since 1994. Within a short time, he was accruing awards for The Marine Room, the hotel’s signature restaurant; a favorite of San Diego locals for its fabulous food and spectacular seaside views. The busy chef oversees all dining and catering operations at LJBTC and their sister property La Jolla Shores Hotel, home of The Shores restaurant. Guillas has a stunning list of credentials including appearances in Food Arts Magazine and on the PBS series Rising Chefs. He is included in the series cookbook, Rising Star Chefs. He was voted Chef of the Year by Chef Magazine in 2004.

Chef Guillas, Photo courtesy of La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

Chef Guillas, Photo courtesy of La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

Although he uses foods and seasonings from all over the world, it would be unfair to call his food fusion. His mastery of technique, flavors and ingredients leads to sprightly creations that blend elements uniquely; providing fresh inspiration.

Chef Guillas grew up in Brittany in a family of butchers, bakers, and restauranteurs, exposing him to the appreciation of fine food and drink. He is  classically trained, apprenticing to the legendary Georges Paineau at La Bretagne in Questembert, France, beginning in 1978. Over the next six years he worked in kitchens around France, culminating with a move to French Guyana where he became chef de cuisine at Le Dolmen.

From French Guyana, Guillas moved to Washington, DC where worked his way up through the ranks in former White House Executive Chef Pierre Chambrin’s restaurant Maison Blanche, ultimately becoming sous chef. In 1989 he relocated to the west coast to take the position of chef de cuisine in the Grant Grill at the US Grant Hotel in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. He remained there until 1994 when he took his current position as Executive Chef at the LJBTC.

The Marine Room, photo courtesy of La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

The Marine Room, photo courtesy of La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club

Besides being one of only 14 chefs inducted into the International Restaurant & Hospitality Rating Bureau’s American Chefs’ Hall of Fame, he is also a member of  Chaines de Rotisseur, an international gastronomic society founded in Paris in 1950. This gastronomic group is devoted to promoting fine dining, camaraderie and appreciation of excellently prepared food. Guillas has received many culinary awards and honors during his career. A

Chef Guillas and his chef de cuisine, Ron Oliver created  Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World, a cookbook, while traveling and cooking around the world. The colorful book and it’s delicious recipes has  received accolades since its 2009 publication.  Gregory Bertolini’s photographs sweep you into the mystique of foods from around the world. Chef Guillas  allowed me to choose a recipe from the cookbook to share with readers. I chose Lemongrass Speared Diver Scallops , a recipe he created in Japan, because it represents his commitment to using the freshest possible food, combined with international ingredients.

Lemongrass Speared Diver Scallops*
Seaweed Wrap, Wasabi Cream

¼ cup almond meal
1 teaspoon chopped thyme leaves
¼ teaspoon togorashi pepper **
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 nori sheet
12 large scallops, size u-10, tendon removed
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 12 4-inch spears
To taste, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚. In small mixing bowl, combine almond meal, thyme, togarashi, and sea salt. Set aside. Tightly wrap one nori strip around each scallop. Add grapeseed oil to skillet over high heat. Lightly season scallops with sea salt and pepper. Sear four scallops at a time for 30 seconds on each side. Transfer to baking sheet. Skewer each scallop horizontally with lemongrass spear. Top with almond mixture. Bake two minutes or until warm in the center and lightly underdone.

Wasabi Cream
2 tablespoons wasabi powder
2 tablespoons sake wine, cold
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sour cream

In small mixing bowl, combine wasabi powder and sake to form a paste. Whisk in remaining ingredients. Transfer to a squeeze bottle.

Presentation: Arrange scallops on a warm serving platter. Dot wasabi cream beside each.

* Recipe From Flying Pans: Two Chefs, One World by Bernard Guillas and Ron Oliver, copyright R and B Foods and Culture Productions, all rights reserved. Used with the authors’ permission.

**Togarashi  (also known as ichimi) is a small, hot, red Japanese chili, found fresh or dried in rounds or flakes . If you cannot find it in your local grocery or gourmet shop, it is available on the Internet.

If you have any La Jolla dining favorites you want to share with us, we’d love to hear about them.

Note: We were guests of the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club and The Marine Room while visiting San Diego. This generous hospitality has not influenced this post in any way.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “La Jolla dining: Chef Bernard Guillas works magic at The Marine Room”

  1. Charles Higgins
    January 23, 2011 at 2:46 pm #

    Great view out the dining room window photo…


    • Steve Collins
      January 24, 2011 at 8:18 am #

      Hi Charles,
      The view is amazing. There are pictures of spring tides that have completely destroyed the dining room, causing it to be rebuilt. This has happened two or three times but they always rebuild. But what a combination of fine food and fabulous view!

  2. Leslie
    January 23, 2011 at 10:53 pm #

    Sounds like San Diego has some of the world’s finest chefs! Thanks for this profile of Chef Bernard Guillas and the recipe 🙂

    • Steve Collins
      January 24, 2011 at 8:15 am #

      Hi Leslie,
      Yes, San Diego has a thriving a thriving foodie culture at all levels, not just fine dining with lots of chefs who insist on good local ingredients.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge